In situ pressure measurement within deformable rectangular polydimethylsiloxane microfluidic devices

Biomicrofluidics. 2012 Jun;6(2):26501-2650112. doi: 10.1063/1.4720394. Epub 2012 May 18.


In this paper, we present a simple procedure to incorporate commercially available external pressure transducers into existing microfluidic devices, to monitor pressure-drop in real-time, with minimal design modifications to pre-existing channel designs. We focus on the detailed fabrication steps and assembly to make the process straightforward and robust. The work presented here will benefit those interested in adding pressure drop measurements in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) based microchannels without having to modify existing channel designs or requiring additional fabrication steps. By using three different devices with varying aspect ratio channels ([Formula: see text], width/depth), we demonstrate that our approach can easily be adapted into existing channel designs inexpensively. Furthermore, our approach can achieve steady state measurements within a matter of minutes (depending on the fluid) and can easily be used to investigate dynamic pressure drops. In order to validate the accuracy of the measured pressure drops within the three different aspect ratio devices, we compared measured pressure drops of de-ionized water and a 50 wt. % glycerol aqueous solution to four different theoretical expressions. Due to the deformability of PDMS, measured pressure drops were smaller than those predicted by the rigid channel theories (plate and rectangular). Modification of the rigid channel theories with a deformability parameter α provided better fits to the measured data. The elastic rectangular expression developed in this paper does not have a geometric restriction and is better suited for microchannels with a wider range of aspect ratios.